October 14, 2014

Short Films: Luna Park & Mondays


Recently, I had the good fortune of making a pair of quiet films, shot lowdown and dirty, with a crew of just one - me.

Working alongside actor and producer Freddie Connor, best known for British movies such as Baseline and The Grind, we shot Mondays and Luna Park back-to-back, over two days in New York.

Both films are produced in partnership with Finelight Films, and I'm very happy with how we managed to shot both movies shot fast.of course, it takes the right script and cast to make the project shine, and so I was thankful to reconnect with Josh Hawkins and Fiona Graham, both of whom I'd worked with previously.

Both films will be debuting on the festival circuit in 2015.




Mondays - 5 mins

Two city traders, walk the shoreline of Williamsburg, Brooklyn, late one summer eve. Mickey (Josh Hawkins), is anxious. He's convinced he's about to be found out for insider trading, and turns to his colleague and confidente, Jonny (Freddie Connor), looking for some advice on what seems like a forgone situation.

As the two men wander the rapidly gentrified streets, amongst exhausted factories, rattling advice and hope, it's clear that all is not what it seems, and that the biggest set up might be yet to come.




Luna Park - 8 mins

Thirteen years after they last saw each other, Jimmy (Freddie Connor) and Carly (Fiona Graham) are reunited on the boardwalk of Coney Island, Brooklyn.

Here, they reminisce over the lives they've had since they split, of the mistakes they made and the possibility of starting over now that they are both older and wiser.



September 14, 2014

Let It Go Premieres in London

Last night, as I wandered through rainy Manhattan, my mind was abuzz with nervous excitement. Here I was, nudging my way through folks headed into the bustling lights of Times Square, as I headed for my train, wishing that I could been a few thousand miles away.

Back in London, on a different time zone but very familiar turf, my latest film as a director, co-written with my girl, Maria McIndoo, played to friends and strangers at my most revered UK event, Portobello Film Festival.


If you're familiar with Portobello, you'll appreciate the kickass, non-conformist, absolute support attitude this event has. And indeed, that approach isn't something grafted on - it comes from the organisers themselves, whose passion and belief in the medium of film is bigger than their own egos of being seen and heard as the badass human beings they are. So before I continue, to all the guys behind Portobello Film Festival - thank you. You do something amazing every year in showcasing so many movies, and not once have you disappointed us film fans and filmmakers with the size and ambition of the event. Simply amazing, and all credit to you for making it happen and making it all seem so breezy.

So that brings me to Let It Go - I was nervous. This is the first comedy I've directed, but yet we still stepped away from all the tropes etc, instead focusing on trying to make something that was fresh, yet felt classic. And we were doing it in a pretty small way.

Of course, as it played, I tweeted back and forth with my amazing friends who I knew were there, and it was a teasingly good to get their messages from the screening.
And yet, this all just added to that burgeoning anxiety - that night-before-Christmas feeling that you had as a kid. Knowing I couldn't be in the room - that a flight back to my home city was at its most generous, north of $1000 - it was painful. After all, this was the world premiere! And more than that, London is where I was born and spent my formative years (and many more since). I love that town. I loved this movie. And my friends who I miss dearly, were all there.

I'll be honest, I was deflated as I rode the N train home to Astoria.

And then, this morning, I woke up to some amazing and sweet and genuine emails from some of the people in attendance. Guys - it means so much that you enjoyed the film. Thank you for taking the time. 

And not only that, my buddy and compadre, Tom Sawyer sent me through some videos from the event. I've stitched them together here...


When you start out, it's tough trying to do what you love. All the odds are stacked against you, and the support can often be pretty thin on the ground. But now that I live in New York City, write and shoot movies with my favourite person in the world and get to share them back in London with some amazing people in attendance, I realise I've not done too bad in this life. 

Of course, there's much more to go - not least of which are our NYC screening on NYC screening on September 23, and the LA screening on September 24 - both of which I know will be just as awesome.

So if you want to see the film, you can find out all the details over on Cinema Zero. But in the meanwhile, thank you London for reminding me why I make films.

Tom.



August 22, 2014

August 15, 2014

Let It Go - Playing at Portobello Film Festival, London



Back in 2010, Vinyl screened at Portobello Film Festival, London. I was lucky enough to be joined by the film's stars, Tom Sawyer and Gillian Leigh Visco.

Now of course, four years on, I'm three more features in the can, but my newest film, co-written with & starring Maria McIndoo is going to be playing at the Portobello Film Festival 2014! 

Let It Go will be screened on September 13 at Westbourne Studios, in the last slot of the night! 

Obviously, as a Londoner this makes me feel extremely proud to be able to showcase my movie back in my hometown. And it's made even more special by the fact that it's Portobello Film Festival that's bringing my work back to the big screen. It really has been too long.

If you're not in London, you can still see the film theatrically in New York City or in LA, and of course, the film is available to download on September 23. All the details can be found on Cinema Zero Distribution.



July 20, 2014

July 06, 2014

A Cinema Zero Power Up

A Cinema Zero refresh.
It's been a little over four months since Cinema Zero first landed, but it's already outgrown itself. The numbers visiting are just amazing, and the feedback has been so positive it's a little insane, really.

Of course, what started out as a simple enough plan - showcase a single film, one at a time - is and will always be, the key focus of the site. But as the awareness of Cinema Zero has grown, so has the remit, and it's time to make everything a little easier to enjoy.

So, on July 30, to coincide with the change over to If We Just Meet from Oliver Guy-Watkins, you'll be seeing a complete refresh of the site, primarily to make it easier to get to the stuff you want.

The new layout will still be focused on the film we're screening - that's massively important, but there will be room to breathe for all the underpinning elements on the site, such as the podcasts and the distribution.

In addition, there will be some new elements introduced to ensure that Cinema Zero remains relevant and of use to all those that are interested in the films and filmmaking, primary of which is a news and features blog. It will be multi-purpose in nature, from showcasing the latest podcast, through to filmmaking articles and even occasional guest posts as well.

There'll be a few other announcements and updates coming down the road of course, but in the meantime, thanks for the continuous support for this little idea I had...

Tom.


June 23, 2014

Announcing Cinema Zero Distribution

In the handful of months that Cinema Zero has been running, things have really grown and I've learned so much about not just what the landscape is like for indie film, but also just where it seems to be headed. And I'll be honest, after several dozen interviews with filmmakers both on and off-screen, it seems like the future is as uncertain as ever.


The facts remain the same; theatrical reach for indie films is near impossible, DVDs are gaining vinyl status, and it seems as though everyone and their cousin is crowdfunding a movie these days. Recently, I even wrote a thought-piece, asking if festivals were, in essence dead, for the start-up filmmaker.

Essentially, we're all making films and nobody seems to know where to take them next. And that's why I started Cinema Zero.

Our thinking was, that after the festival run, you'd all want a place to hopefully find an audience. And that's still the consensus. But what if you wanted to bypass that festival release all together and use those festival fees better. You know, to at least put them toward making more films. And what if you could see a better return on your film by cutting out the middleman (as in distributors), and actually see the money from ticket sales and downloads? What if you could do what you're already doing, only get benefit better from the hustle?

So that's what we're going to try and do. We're going to start distributing feature films. But not the traditional way.

Here's the plan:
  1. Starting with New York City (the coolest place in the world for indie film) we book a theater for a single night and pre-sell the seats to a film.
  2. If the tickets sell well enough, we book a second date. And again, if that works well, we keep booking. Of course, if we don't sell enough seats, we don't run the screening - it's that simple.
  3. We also make the film available as a DRM-free (play it anywhere, basically) download, which is also available to pre-order, and releases on the same day as the theatrical release. It's also available worldwide.
  4. In addition, anyone buying a seat to the movie theater screening (or screenings), gets a copy of the download on the release date as well.
  5. The pricing is simple: $12 for a theater ticket + download, $5 for just the download.
  6. If the film does well and there's enough word-of-mouth attention, we'll expand the theatrical release to more cities, such as LA and London, all the while picking up write-ups.
  7. The filmmakers behind the movies take 90% of the profits from theatrical & digital release - better than any other standard distribution deal.
Okay. That's the idea. Nice thinking cowboy. Now how are you going to make it work?

Well, there's nothing like putting your money where your mouth is, so we're going to begin with Let It Go - my latest movie as a director.

Beginning with a first screening at Anthology Film Archives on September 23 2014 at 8pm in New York City, Let It Go will also be available to download at the same time. You can find out more here.

The plan is bold, I know. But I think it's going to be awesome too. We'll be open to submissions from filmmakers wanting to go this route soon (along with the criteria necessary for us to take the film on), but we'll be keeping an open dialogue on how it goes.

We've got some cool partnerships coming down the road (more on that real soon), and we'll also be opening up the beta for more filmmakers to join soon. To be notified of when that happens, you can join the mailing list and we'll be in touch as soon as it goes live.

So show some love and support and check out Cinema Zero Distribution and be sure to pre-order your copy of Let It Go.